The Speakers


Chiara Burlina

Dr. Chiara Burlina is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Economics and Management, University of Padova (Italy). She has worked as a research fellow in Regional Science at the Gran Sasso Science Institute (Italy) and as a postdoc at the Catholic University of Milan (Italy), after completing the PhD in Economics and Management from the University of Padova (Italy). His research interests lie at the intersection of applied microeconomics, Regional Economics, Economic Geography, and Institutions. Her research specifically explores how different economic factors impact the development of regions, based on a quantitative approach. She has collaborated actively with researchers in other disciplines, like creative and cultural economics, innovation, and finance. She has published on international peer-reviewed journals, such as Journal of Regional Science, Regional Studies, European Urban and Regional Science, Environment and Planning A, Applied Economics. She has also participated in several research projects as research officer, including HORIZON 2020 on socioeconomic and cultural transformations in the context of the fourth industrial revolution.



Masud Cader

Masud Cader serves as the Lead of Country Analytics for the International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group. In this position, Masud is responsible for applying analytics for cross‐country initiatives such as Belt & Road, Outbound Investment, and South‐South, as well as client engagement and upstream impact. Country Analytics creates novel quantitative insights linking development strategy with private-sector client implementation. Previously Masud headed IFC’s Portfolio Intelligence function, and was responsible for a series of internal reports including IFC Equity Horizons linking megatrends with investment platforms; Sustainable Investing providing pathways from IFC’s ESG principles and client practices to financial outcomes. Masud participated in over $1 billion of committed deals and led equity research on large transactions and sponsors for over $2 billion in IFC projects.



Bernardo Caldarola

Bernardo Caldarola is an applied economist, working as researcher at the United Nations University - UNU MERIT in Maastricht. Previously, he worked as postdoctoral researcher at the Enrico Fermi Research Center in Rome. He received a PhD in Science and Technology Policy from the Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex (Brighton, UK). His research examines transformation of economic structures, aiming to understand the impact of technology on the process of structural change with a particular interest in its inclusiveness and sustainability. His research bridges several academic fields, such as development economics, economic geography and economic complexity. He has also collaborated with several international organizations and research centres, including the former UK Department for International Development, the Institute of Development Studies and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.



Carolina Castaldi

Prof. Carolina Castaldi holds the Chair in Geography of Innovation at Utrecht University. Her research deals with processes of innovation and how they unfold over time and over space. Her goal is to develop a broad account of innovation, as including both technological and non-technological forms. As such, she has investigated extensively how innovation emerges in service and creative sectors and the changing business models through which companies operate in local and global markets. She is using theories and concepts from evolutionary economics, in combination with insights from other disciplines. Her most recent research aims at understanding how firm-level innovation drives regional development and the resilience of places. Her original contribution to research on geography of innovation also includes the development of novel indicators of innovation, exploiting patent and trademark data.



Dario Diodato is an economist for the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission. Between 2017 and 2019, he was a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard University’s Growth Lab and – before a PhD in Economic Geography at Utrecht University (2013-2017) – he worked as a researcher in urban and regional economics at the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (The Hague, 2009-2012). Diodato’s research interests include technological change,  structural transformation, migration and technology diffusion, cities and regions, human capital and skills, economic complexity, and economic resilience.


François Lafond


François is Deputy Director of the Complexity Economics group, Lead Researcher at the Smith School for Enterprise and the Environment, an Oxford Martin fellow, an Associate member of Nuffield college, and an External Faculty at the Complexity Science Hub in Vienna.

François’s main areas of research are in the economics of innovation and productivity, environmental economics, complex systems, and forecasting. Currently, his research interests lie in the macroeconomics of the net zero transition, the structure and evolution of production networks, and the future of technology.

His research has appeared in economics and interdisciplinary journals, and has been featured in books, news articles, and public sector reports. See for updated information, including working papers.


Robert Marschinski


Robert Marschinski leads a team of researchers on ‘Applied Environmental Economics’ at the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission. His recent research addresses environmental policy and its impacts on the global competitiveness of EU industries and the EU Single Market. In his work he also employs tools from Economic Complexity to assess EU capabilities in green and critical technologies. Before obtaining his PhD in climate economics and policy from University TU Berlin, he completed a degree in physics at the University of Bologna



Nanditha Mathew

Nanditha is researcher at UNU-MERIT. Nanditha's research interests focus broadly on the microeconomics of innovation and development, in detail, on firm capabilities, firm performance and industrial policy. Nanditha is leading the team on "Conflicting and complementary policies for development"  within the new flagship programme of UNU-MERIT on Comprehensive Innovation for Sustainable Development (CI4SD). Before joining UNU-MERIT, she was a Postdoctoral fellow at the Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa and at the National Research Council (CNR) of Italy (in Florence).



Frank Neffke

Frank Neffke has been a team leader at the Complexity Science Hub Vienna since July 2021. Before joining the Hub, Frank was the Growth Lab's Research Director. He joined the Growth Lab at Harvard's Center for International Development as a Research Fellow in 2012. His research focuses on economic transformation and growth, from the macro-level of structural change in regional and national economies to the micro-level of firm diversification and the career paths of individuals. This research has shed light on topics ranging from structural transformation and new growth paths in regional economies, economic complexity and the role of cities, local labor markets, the importance of division of labor, human capital and teams in modern economies, the consequences of job displacement and the future of work. Before joining CID, Frank worked as an assistant professor at the Erasmus School of Economics in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. He holds a Ph. D. in Economic Geography from Utrecht University and Master degrees in Econometrics and Philosophy from the University of Amsterdam.



Neave o'clery 

Dr Neave O'Clery is Associate Professor and Director of Research at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) at University College London where she leads an inter-disciplinary research group focused on data-driven models for economic development and developing cities. She is currently seconded part time to the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. Her work spans a number of topics and fields including economic complexity and evolutionary economic geography, the informal economy, urban mobility and network science. Neave was previously a Senior Research Fellow at the Mathematical Institute at the University of Oxford, and before this a Fulbright Scholar and Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Center for International Development at the Harvard Kennedy School. She is founder and Chair of the Oxford Summer School in Economic Networks, an annual multi-disciplinary summer school since 2017. She holds a PhD (mathematics) from Imperial College.



Aurelio Patelli

Aurelio Patelli is a researcher at CREF in the group of Economic Complexity where his interest includes research on complex network methodologies, innovation and sustainable studies and economics of science. He holds a Ph.D. in Physics from Università di Firenze and had a postdoctoral position in Paris at the CEA on modelling collective behaviours. Later, he moved to Rome starting his work on economic complexity topics.



Luciano Pietronero

Luciano Pietronero is the President of the Enrico Fermi Research Center, formerly Full Professor at the Physics Department of La Sapienza University of Rome and at the University of Groningen. Professor Pietronero has a broad international experience in academic and industrial institutions. Author of more than 400 scientific papers, he was the coordinator of a national PNR project “Crisis Lab” funded by the Italian Government and of several international research projects. Chairman of the international conference on Statistical Physics STATPHYS 23 held in 2007 in Genoa (Italy). Expert of statistical physics, many body theories, and one of the world's leading expert of complex systems and economic complexity. In 2008 he was the recipient of the Enrico Fermi Prize, the highest award of the Italian Physical Society. He  founded and directed (2010-2016) the CNR Institute of Complex Systems (ISC). From 2016, he is Senior Advisor for the World Bank Group. 



Emanuele Pugliese

Emanuele Pugliese joined the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in 2017. After undergraduate and Master studies in Physics, he obtained a PhD in Economics from Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies (Pisa, Italy). His research interests include innovation and development, with a focus on the role of complexity in economic systems. He has been consultant for the World Bank Group and researcher for the Italian National Council for Research.


Angelica Sbardella

Angelica Sbardella is a researcher at the Enrico Fermi Research Centre in Rome and research associate at SOAS University of London School of Finance and Management. Her research focuses on industrial competitiveness and development, labour markets, technological innovation, economic inequality, and the sustainable transition; data-driven and policy-oriented in its nature, it aims at building a bridge between economic complexity and more traditional approaches in economics. She previously was a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute of Economics of the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa and research fellow at the Institute of Complex Systems-CNR; has been consultant at the European Commission, World Bank Group, ILO, and UNU-MERIT, using the economic complexity framework to address issues in regional development, skill creation and industrial innovation.



Luc Soete

Luc Soete is a Professor at the UNU-MERIT, and Professor and Dean of the Brussels School of Governance. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of the University of Sussex Business School and of the Advisory Board of the UNU Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies (UNU-CRIS) in Bruges, Belgium. He is a former Rector Magnificus and professor of International Economic Relations at the School of Business and Economics, Maastricht University, and former director of UNU-MERIT, a joint research institute of the United Nations University (UNU) and Maastricht University. Luc Soete is a member of the Dutch scientific advisory body (AWTI) and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) since 2010.[1] He serves on the Board of Supervisors of the Delft University of Technology. Professor Dr Soete is a member of the Economic and Social Impact of Research expert group for the EC’s Directorate-General Research and Innovation, and of the Scientific Committee for the EC’s Joint Research Centre.


Andrea Tacchella

Andrea Tacchella is Senior Reseacher at CREF, where he works at the intersection of Economic Complexity, machine learning and innovation studies. Previously he was post-doc researcher at the Institute of Complex Systems at CNR, where he contributed to the birth and development of the Economic Complexity framework, laying out its empirical and theorethical foundations. In the same years he has been a consultant for numeorus firms and international organizations (Azimut Capital Management, Royal Dutch Shell,, and he has collaborated with the World Bank in the implementation of the EFC framework for policy. Between 2019 and 2022, Andrea has worked at the European Commission's Joint Research Centre in Seville, to promote the use of EFC methods among the economic analysis tools of the Commission. 



Fabiana Visentin

Fabiana Visentin is Assistant Professor at UNU-MERIT and Maastricht University, and her research interests focus on the microeconomics of innovation and the economics of science area. In these topics, her contributions have appeared in the American Sociological Review, Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Research Policy, IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, Science and Public Policy, and PlosOne. Before moving to the Netherlands, Fabiana worked as a Senior Research Fellow at the Chair of Economics and Management of Innovation at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland. She was a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Lugano, Lugano, Switzerland, and at the Goizueta Business School, Atlanta, USA.



Bartel Van de Walle

Bartel Van de Walle is a Professor of Policy Analysis. Before joining UNU-MERIT he was Head of the Department of Multi-Actor Systems in the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management at the Technical University of Delft, the Netherlands. He has also held faculty positions at Tilburg University, the Netherlands and the New Jersey Institute of Technology, USA and was a researcher at the Nuclear Research Centre SCK·CEN, Belgium. He was previously a senior fellow with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, USA and has worked extensively with humanitarian organisations, most notably the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).



Andrea Zaccaria

Andrea Zaccaria is a researcher at the Institute for Complex Systems-CNR in Rome. He received his Ph.D. in Physics at the "Sapienza" University of Rome, where he applied concepts and methods borrowed from statistical physics and the physics of complex systems to the study of financial markets. As a member of the research and development group of SoSE Spa, one of the main Italian fiscal agencies, he developed a machine learning algorithm to classify taxpayers and detect tax evasion. In his current role with ISC, Andrea is exploring the use of complex networks methodologies, algorithmic tools, and machine learning in the field of economics. This activity led Andrea to the appointment as a consultant at public and private organizations, including the International Finance Corporation-World Bank Group.

Aurelio Patelli